Script: Will Ewing
Art: Joe Eisma
Colors: Andre Szymanowicz
Publisher: Archie Comics
I’ve been just a little bit obsessed with the CW’s take on the Archie characters in their new teen drama, Riverdale, so this book was kind of a no-brainer for me. It’s meant to tell stories from that universe that viewers don’t see on a weekly basis - sort of like canonically acceptable fanfiction, for lack of a better description.
So it starts with events in basically the same place they are in the show. Jason Blossom is still dead, Archie is still trying to balance football and music, and Cheryl is still being a complete hosebeast to poor Betty. Other things are a bit different, like Archie and Jughead being on completely friendly terms, and Archie still playing varsity football while wearing Jason’s jersey.
What I enjoyed the most about this book is the way it bridges the “feel” of the CW show and the current Archie books, with bits and pieces of other fictional universes thrown in. Of course, the comparison to “Twin Peaks” comes naturally, what with the murder mystery and dark underbelly of small-town life and all the promotional material the CW put out about the show to begin with. But there’s also more than just a few similarities to the first season of “Glee”. (This makes more sense when you realize that Archie Comics’ chief creative officer, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, was a co-producer and writer on that show early in its run, and was responsible for the “Archie Meets Glee” crossover miniseries as well.)
The two stories in this issue focus on the higher members of the high school food chain: football jocks and cheerleaders. While we’re not meant to see the gang as part of the elite, it’s safe to say that none of them are going to be social outcasts anytime soon. I found it fascinating, as a diehard fan of underdogs in general, to be rooting for the kinds of kids who wouldn’t have given me the time of day during my own high school years. Part of what made that easy to do was the cleverness of the writing. The story titles alone were pretty funny, especially the girls’ story. I also really appreciated the interior monologues given to both Betty and Archie; they’re each more than pretty faces, and it’s nice to see that sentiment backed up in their own words.
And speaking of faces, that brings me to the art in the book. Joe Eisma has really captured the look of the CW show, and his figure drawing is really good, but the faces need a bit of work. They end up feeing a bit angular and interchangeable in a way that I’m not a huge fan of. Also, the angry expressions on the girls’ faces, particularly Cheryl, manage to actually look harsh and overly simplified.
That complaint aside, I’m really looking forward to more issues of this book, particularly as way to tide myself over until the second season after the first one ends. I’m hoping that there will be more focus on different characters as the book continues, because I found the lack of Kevin Keller in this issue to be particularly annoying.